Traveling Safely: Your Guide to Wellness Retreats in the COVID-19 Era
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There’s no denying that 2020 has been a rocky road, and the need to disconnect and focus on our wellbeing is now greater than ever.
The global pandemic has affected all aspects of modern life. From grinding to a complete stop to reopening with restrictions in place, travel has seen one of the biggest shifts in 2020.
People turned their attention to their own backyard, and domestic travel has taken center stage. Not surprisingly, outdoor and wellness travel have seen a surge in popularity.
After many months of ups and downs, most of us can’t wait to get away from it all and have a change of scenery. A pampering retreat to soothe our soul, disconnect, and reset may just be the escape that we’ve been waiting for.
That said, 2020 has left many people wondering whether it’s safe to go on a retreat or not. Or even travel at all. The mere thought of travel planning right now is riddled with a lot of questions.
This useful guide is designed to help you plan, book, and enjoy a health and wellness retreat safely in the COVID-19 era. Below, you’ll find insights on:
- An overview of travel in the time of coronavirus
- What has changed on wellness retreats?
- How can I feel safe on a wellness retreat?
- What are my safest options?
- What if my plans change due to COVID-19?
- What if I can’t travel right now?
Note: We strongly advise you to check your local embassy and/or your destination’s official government websites for the travel restrictions in the area you plan to visit prior to booking.
An overview of travel in the time of coronavirus
Since the reopening of certain borders around the globe, we now have a general idea of what traveling in the COVID-19 era looks like. While each country does have its own rules, here’s what you can expect when traveling internationally:
- A negative RT-PCR test (taken within a certain time before traveling, depending on the local entrance rules) or Rapid Antigen test (RADT) might be required upon entry in a foreign country.
- If you are unable to take the test before you leave home, you may opt to be tested upon arrival (and wait out the results in quarantine, should a PCR test be required).
- Quarantine may be imposed for up to 14 days in certain countries.
- Some countries have eased their restrictions for immunized travelers – if you’re fully vaccinated and are able to provide a valid COVID-19 vaccination certificate, you will be exempt from quarantine requirements (if you’ve received the second dose of the coronavirus vaccine less than 10-14 days before traveling, you may still need to quarantine).
- In most countries, travelers are required to have their temperature checked and complete a health & travel questionnaire.
- Providing proof of travel plans (accommodation, tours, etc.) might be required upon entry.
- Providing proof of travel insurance is required in some countries. Ideally, it should cover medical issues, COVID-related claims, and pre-existing medical conditions.
- Wearing masks might be mandatory in all public spaces, including common spaces at retreats, both indoors and outdoors. Those who’ve been vaccinated will still need to wear a mask.
- Travelers showing COVID-19 symptoms will be placed under quarantine.
- Physical distancing is required at all times and in all places, except when you’re only with your travel companions. Those who’ve been vaccinated will still need to maintain social distance.
- In some destinations, if you’re traveling solo, you can stay in private rooms only. If you’re traveling with your companions, you can share a room. In some cases, if you’re not traveling with your own group and would like to share a room, you might be required to have a negative PCR test taken up to 72 hours before your arrival at the retreat.
Note: Don’t forget to check the rules for re-entering your country. As the situation continues to evolve around the world, countries have started imposing restrictions on their own nationals returning from abroad.
For example, all airline passengers entering the United States (including U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents) must present a negative COVID-19 test (taken within 72 hours of departure) or proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days.
International travelers (both citizens and visitors) have to quarantine upon entry into the U.S. International travelers are recommended to get tested 3-5 days after traveling and self-quarantine for 7 days after travel (even if the test is negative). If you don’t get tested, you should self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
Whereas if you are flying back to Canada, you must take a COVID-19 molecular test 72-hour prior to departure and must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. A negative test taken at any point during your quarantine does not exclude you from the requirement to quarantine. You must also have a quarantine plan to submit to the authorities.
If you are flying into the UK, a negative COVID-19 test is required before boarding the plane. From February 15, anyone arriving in the UK will have to self-isolate for 10 days and get a PCR test on days two and eight of the quarantine. If any of these tests comes back positive, they’ll have to quarantine for an additional 10 days from the date of the test. Returning residents, who’ve been in red-list countries in the last 10 days, will have to quarantine in an assigned hotel room for 10 days from the time of arrival (and pay for the quarantine package, which costs £1,750 and includes the tests).
What if I am vaccinated?
Vaccination programs are being rolled out throughout the world, bringing a glimmer of hope to 2021, including the reboot of travel.
Many tourism-hungry countries are looking into the possibility of restriction-free travel for immunized persons. This means that, if you can prove that you’ve been fully vaccinated (received both doses) no longer than six months before traveling or that you’ve had COVID-19 within three to six months of traveling, you could be exempt from quarantine and, in some countries, from testing too.
Some destinations have recently started welcoming travelers that have been vaccinated (and can prove it) without quarantine and, in some cases, without a PCR test either. Others require proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of traveling in order to be exempt from quarantine. You can see the full list of countries that welcome vaccinated travelers without quarantine here.
Many countries around the world are looking into opening up for travelers who’ve had the vaccine. There’s hope this can happen within the next months or later in the year.
In the meantime, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is developing a digital COVID-19 vaccine passport for travelers. However, for the time being, most require proof of a negative PCR test in order to get onboard an international flight.
Even if you’re vaccinated, you’ll still need to abide by the local COVID-19 restrictions and general infection protocols. You’ll have to continue wearing a mask in public spaces and maintain social distancing.
» READ MORE: What is a Health & Wellness Holiday?
What has changed on wellness retreats?
There’s no doubt that health and wellness retreats look differently in the COVID-19 era. Travelers and retreat organizers alike have learned to be flexible and adapt to the new situation.
As soon as restrictions were eased in certain destinations, numerous retreats went to great lengths to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for their guests.
The organizers have adhered to the local safety protocols and are monitoring the COVID-19 situation in their area. For starters, you’ll find that many of these wellness retreats have limited the maximum number of participants, thus ensuring peace of mind for those seeking a safe escape.
Although extra safety measures are being taken, the main focus hasn’t changed. They remain an opportunity to relax, unplug, and concentrate on your practice. The entire experience is still centered around pampering yourself with wellbeing activities that include, but are not limited to Ayurveda, healing, meditation, yoga, detox, acupuncture, aqua healing, healthy eating, deep rest, a positive mindset, reconnecting with yourself and nature, and enjoying the good company.
To help people find their calm in the time of coronavirus, during lockdowns, and while traveling is still not possible, another form of retreats has sprung – online experiences. These can be anything from online retreats to online healing sessions, online wellness coaching courses, online meditation courses, online fitness training, and a variety of online private sessions for personal development.
How can I feel safe on a wellness retreat? Clean & safe retreats
Image credit: Bali Vitality
While all health and wellness retreats have to comply with the general COVID-19 protocols in order to remain operational, some guarantee that they have implemented a number of measures to ensure high standards of health and hygiene, thus preventing and controlling the spread of the virus.
These retreats are tagged “clean & safe” on our Tripaneer.com website.
These retreats take the health of their guests and team very seriously. They focus on extra cleanliness and the best practices to create a safe environment, as much as possible, from the moment you arrive at the retreat to the accommodation, classes, workshops, meals, and everything in between.
We highly recommend opting for wellness retreats with the “clean & safe” tag, which guarantee participants that they have adhered to the special health and hygiene protocols implemented by the local government. These measures can differ from one destination to the other, and may include (but are not limited to):
- The retreats use cleaning chemicals that are effective against coronavirus.
- Linens, towels, and laundry are washed according to the local authority guidelines.
- Guest accommodation is disinfected between stays.
- Communal and high-touch areas are regularly disinfected throughout the day.
- If you use the retreat’s yoga equipment, you will be given your own personal mat and yoga props to use throughout your stay. All the equipment is disinfected between guests.
- Cashless payment is available.
- Physical distancing is maintained.
- Instructors maintain a safe distance from the client.
- Activities take place outside where possible. When this is not possible, the yoga, meditation, or workshop rooms will be set up with the 2-meter (6 feet) rule between guests
- The staff follows all safety protocols as directed by the local government.
- Hand sanitizer is available in guest rooms and key areas.
- Process in place to check the health of guests.
- First aid kit available.
- A room is available to isolate suspected or infected COVID-19 patients.
- Protective masks are available for all staff.
- Protective masks are available for clients.
Note: When attending a retreat only with your travel companions, the social distancing requirements when dining and during the wellbeing practices will be slightly different.
What are my safest options?
Image credit: Mangosteen Ayurveda & Wellness Resort
Even though most retreats have complied with the general COVID-19 regulations, there are certain traveling options that are safer than others. For example, you can choose to go on a retreat closer to home, travel with your own group and join a private retreat, or opt to spend more time outdoors.
Go on a retreat closer to home
You don’t have to venture far to reap the benefits of a health and wellness retreat.
The global pandemic has encouraged everyone to travel closer to home. So why not take this opportunity to discover the beauty in your own backyard, explore a destination in your country that you’ve never been to before, or see the familiar with new eyes?
Aside from the safety reasons, there are other benefits of traveling closer to home. Planning transportation is a lot easier, there’s little to no jet lag, and overall, you’ll save time and money.
Simply go to Tripaneer.com and browse health and wellness retreats that are closest to your current location.
Image credit: L’Għarix Temple Retreat
Are you considering traveling with your friends or family in a small group? Or perhaps you’d like to attend a retreat by yourself and not interact with other participants? For an extra level of comfort, safety, and privacy, you can opt for a private retreat.
Private wellness retreats are fully customizable and tailored to your specific needs. You can opt for custom-designed one-on-one retreats, where you’ll be the only one attending.
If you plan to travel with a group, on a private retreat there’ll be just you, your private group, instructors, and staff throughout your stay.
Furthermore, the social distancing requirements when dining and during the wellbeing practices will be slightly different from a regular retreat where people outside your group might attend.
What if my plans change due to COVID-19? Flexible booking conditions
Concerned that your plans may change due to COVID-19? Thanks to Tripaneer.com’s flexible booking conditions, you can reschedule your booking for free or receive your non-refundable deposit as a voucher and re-book anytime.
Reschedule your retreat
If new travel restrictions are put in place and you need to cancel or postpone your trip, you can change the dates of your retreat. Contact our customer service team or the retreat organizer to inquire about the other available dates.
Book a different retreat or trip
If you or the retreat organizer is not able to reschedule your retreat, you can book a different retreat or trip in whichever location you choose. Simply use your deposit to book the new holiday.
Receive credit & book any trip later
If you are unsure whether you can travel or when, you can convert your non-refundable deposit into store credit. This way, you can use the credit for any vacation that we have available on any of our themed travel websites, such as yoga retreats, meditation retreats, surf camps, horse riding holidays, safaris, and more.
What if I can’t travel right now? Book an online experience
Thanks to technology, you can now join a health and wellness retreat from the safety and comfort of your own home. These online experiences are designed to relax and recharge your body, mind, and soul without stepping foot outside your home. You can deepen your practice, disconnect, and reset without traveling at all.
You can access the retreat from any device and enjoy daily wellbeing-focused classes via live-stream video sessions, as well as empowering talks and workshops, while connecting with like-minded people from all over the world. You’re only one click (or tap) away from the instructors and the other participants!
Are you looking to turn inward and tap into your true potential? You can now attend personalized online programs for personal development, as well as for health and wellbeing, from the comfort of your own home, wherever you are in the world.
There’s a variety of programs to choose from. You can align your body and mind with yoga and meditation sessions, navigate your emotions and empower yourself with life coaching, or restore your natural energy through online healing sessions, just to name a few.
Not only is this a great alternative to work on your life goals even when you’re unable to travel, but it’s also a budget-friendly option. You won’t have to worry about transportation expenses or pay for meals and accommodation. The only cost is that of the program itself.
Furthermore, you don’t have to take time off work or change your routine to join them. The schedule is flexible and adapted to your needs.
*Cover image credit: Bliss Body Retreats